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Item out of stock: can stock shortages become a thing of the past?

Przemysław Kozera, 05 sierpnia 2020

We’ve all been there: you desperately need something and you cannot find it on the store shelf. Irritating as they may be, we sort of got used to such situations. Can this problem ever be solved?

 

It’s Saturday evening, and you know that by law the shops will be closed tomorrow (Sunday). You run to the nearest convenience store to get a pack of breadcrumbs for tomorrow’s pork chops. Every other shop in your area is already closed. You’re running up and down the aisles looking a for that precious bag of crumbs, but it’s nowhere to be found. The item is out of stock! Perhaps it’s sold out. It’s also possible that another customer picked up the last bag, and left it somewhere else, or the shop assistant missed one of the bags unloading the pallet, and now it’s lying behind some old boxes at the back of the store. They could have even run out of breadcrumbs two days ago but nobody noticed, so nobody ordered more.

 

How is stock being monitored nowadays?

It may come as a surprise to some people, but essentially it still means walking from shelf to shelf and checking what’s actually on them. Although we have the technology to remotely control robotic rovers on Mars, we still need to send people to physical stores to check stock levels. The staff have plenty of other things to do around the store, so their time is limited. Just imagine how long a full stock count takes. Let’s not forget that the data gathered gets quickly outdated with every printed receipt.

Oh yes, receipts. If we know what got delivered to the store, and what has been sold, then what’s the problem? Shouldn’t there be a system that does the math? Well, in theory, yes. However, it’s important to remember that at every stage of logistics there is a person responsible for counting items manually and entering the data. When the delivery reaches the store, the products are unloaded, and placed on shelves. There’s potential for human error at every stage of the process. It can be a simple mistake or a case of blindly trusting the data coming from another person. Let’s not forget theft, which is common in stores. We don’t seem to have a solution to the problem of misplaced products either.

Can modern technology help?

Of course it can. What’s more, finding the right solution will not only make consumers’ lives easier, but also increase sales for retail chains. An out of stock item will not sell. Every time you cannot find something on the shelf, the store loses money, and if you consider the volume of traffic retail chains generate, that’s millions in lost revenue.

 

Item out of stock: not on the Smart Shelf!

Our technology is a game changer. Imagine being able to perform a full stock count of a store or even of the whole chain with a single mouse click. The Smart Shelf is able to identify the items that are placed on it, pinpoint their location and also display the Use By/Before date and batch number. Store staff get notifications when a product needs to be restocked or if it’s soon to expire. They also know instantly when an item needs to be moved after it’s been misplaced.